- The Washington Times - Saturday, August 12, 2017

President Trump would be worthy of receiving a Nobel Peace Prize if he denuclearizes North Korea, according to CNN’s Fareed Zakaria, but his recent bluffing has hardly helped reduce the regime’s nuclear ambitions, he said during Friday’s “Real Time with Bill Maher.”

“Trump is a madman, he’s saying crazy things, but what if it works?” Mr. Maher asked while discussing the possibility of once and for all curbing North Korea’s contentious nuclear program. “What if madman versus madman — I mean, we’ve had no good policy towards this problem for 20 years through many administrations of both parties.”

“If ‘working’ you mean that Trump saying what he’s saying will get the North Koreans to actually denuclearize, I would give him the Nobel Prize,” responded Mr. Zakaria, a foreign policy specialist and one of Mr. Maher’s guests during Friday’s episode of his weekly HBO program. “I think that is highly, highly, highly unlikely to happen,” he added.

Washington has long wrestled with Pyongyang over its nuclear ambitions, but the dilemma took new form this week when Mr. Trump responded to recent North Korean missiles tests by threatening to unleash “fire and fury like the world has never seen.”

According to Mr. Zakaria, however, the president’s threats are only enabling North Korean leader Kim Jong Un.

“If you look at it from North Korea’s point of view, they feel totally embattled, they feel surrounded by enemies or friends who don’t care much for them,” Mr. Zakaria said. “The most powerful country in the world, the United States, has constantly said it wants to change the regime and in some way destroy the country. If you were in that situation you’d want to buy insurance. And in the world of international relations, insurance is nuclear weapons. So Trump, by being more bellicose, by threatening more, is actually, to my mind, making them stick even more closely to these nuclear weapons.”

“Why are they going to give them up when he’s making it clear, look, we’re going to attack you. And what they keep saying is, well, guess what, we’ve got nukes. And you don’t tend to attack people with nukes,” he added.

Mr. Zakaria was hardly the only guest during Friday’s episode at odds with the president.

“He’s incentivizing their hawkishness,” agreed presidential historian Jon Meacham, who later said he believed Mr. Trump “thought he was being [Winston] Churchill” when he threatened North Korea this week.

“And he thought he was being Jean-Claude Van Damme,” Mr. Maher joked in response.

• Andrew Blake can be reached at ablake@washingtontimes.com.

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